Sam Holcroft's short play Edgar & Annabel is an Orwellian dystopian fable about a group of freedom fighters attempting to stand up to a repressive regime, while being continuously subjected to surveillance. It was first performed in a double bill with The Swan by D.C. Moore as part of the Double Feature season of paired short plays at the Paintframe, a specially converted space at the National Theatre, London, on 18 July 2011.
The play begins in Edgar and Annabel's kitchen, where dinner is being prepared. But the young couple who live here are only playing the roles of Edgar and Annabel: they are in fact Nick and Marianne, two members of the resistance movement plotting revolution. Since the house is bugged by a computer capable of analysing sounds and speech-patterns, they must play Edgar and Annabel, sticking to the script to ensure continuity and imperceptibility. The play explores the complex relationship that undercover agents, and actors, have with their allotted roles. In a key scene that uses motifs of high farce, the two dissidents prepare a bomb, while the sound they make is drowned out by four other dissidents singing karaoke.
The National Theatre premiere was directed by Lyndsey Turner and designed by Soutra Gilmour. It was performed by Trystan Gravelle, Kirsty Bushell, Damian O’Hare, Karina Fernandez, Tom Basden, Richard Goulding and Phoebe Fox.